century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

View all members

George William Curtis

Author/Editor/Civic Affairs

Centurion, 1851–1892

Born 24 February 1824 in Providence, Rhode Island

Died 31 August 1892 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Moravian Cemetery, New Dorp, New York

Proposed by Thomas Hicks

Elected 4 January 1851 at age twenty-six

Archivist’s Note: After his death, a memorial address delivered at the clubhouse on 17 December 1892 by Parke Godwin was published in book form (not yet reproduced on this website).

Century Memorial

No man has cast greater lustre on this association from his connection with it than George William Curtis. Of no one were we ever more justly proud. He set a standard so high that association with him was elevating, and the charm of his presence was so irresistible that it made him a model for us all. His great abilities extended over a wide range. The delightful productions of his youth—which will always be read with pleasure—“The Nile Notes of a Howadji,” “Lotus Eating,” “The Potiphar Papers,” “Prue and I,” in which poetry, playful satire and serious thought are skilfully mingled, were succeeded by serious work in lecturing, editorial writing, and the permanent occupation of Harper’s Easy Chair for nearly forty years. In after dinner oratory he had no equal. Few who heard his speech at the farewell dinner to Charles Dickens will ever forget its beauty and appropriateness. It was one of his great merits that whatever he did, he did well; that whenever he appeared the public was sure of him. There was no faltering or failing, no unevenness, no disappointment to his friends. He was always up to the highest standard, and in every effort facile princeps. But in troubled times he rose to greater heights, and showed his composition to be of sterner stuff and himself a leader of men. In great meetings, during the Civil War, in political conventions, he swayed men like reeds with his matchless oratory, and often turned a hostile tide into a flood that bore his way. His eulogy has been fitly spoken here by his life-long friend and associate Parke Godwin, and it would be a work of presumption to add to it; but we lay this leaf of remembrance on his bier, and say of him.

“Thou wert a morning star among the living,

E’re thy fair light had fled.

Now having died, thou art as Hesperus giving

New splendor to the dead.”

Henry E. Howland
1893 Century Association Yearbook